Catherine Otto-Bayer

Circle of John Downman, 1782


Depicted in profile before a red drape, this winsome and well-painted portrait shows Catherine Otto-Bayer as a young lady of 21 years of age and about to get married. She wears a décolleté white and gold dress in richly figured silk, her brown hair curled and dressed with pearls and trailing lace.

Oil on mahogany panel dated on the reverse ‘July 18 1782’ and housed in a simple turned wood frame with an inner gilded rim. The portrait is accompanied by a loose paper label that indirectly identifies the sitter.

Born in Antigua in 1760, Catherine was the daughter of Rowland Otto-Baijer (sometimes written Bayer) and his wife Elizabeth Pare. When not at their plantations in the West Indies, the family seat was Farleigh Castle in Somerset. In 1783 (just after this portrait was painted) Catherine married Zachary Bayly Edwards, a barrister who also had plantations in Jamaica and Barbados. Contemporary sources describe Zachary as a “liberal-minded man of considerable wealth”. The couple had five children. When Zachary died in 1800 he left £5,000 to each of his children (approximately half a million in today’s money) and £600 per year to Catherine along with some of his estates making her a very wealthy lady! Catherine died fifteen years later at the age of 55.

William Stephenson Bennett (1835-1907), named on the accompanying label, was the son of William Coles Bennett and Frances Otto Edwards, the second daughter of Zachary Bayly Edwards and his wife Catherine.

Item Ref. 7419

Size: framed, 168 x 142mm (6⅝ x 5⅝")